"I'm ashamed." Javier Tebas, boss of the Spanish League, does not have words strong enough to describe the scandal that shakes FC Barcelona, and by extension all Spanish football. Last week, Spanish courts charged the Catalan club and several of its former managers with "bribery", "breach of trust" and "forgery of commercial documents" after payments of more than 7.3 million euros to a company owned by Jose Maria Enriquez Negreira, a former head of referees, also prosecuted, were discovered earlier this year.
Facts that push Tebas to say that Spanish football is experiencing the worst moment in its history. Barça claims to have paid the former head of the refereeing committee of the Spanish Football Federation (CTA) from 1994 to 2018 for reports and advice related to refereeing. "There are payments recognized by Barcelona to the vice-president of the CTA, it is something abnormal," Tebas told Movistar Vamos channel.
"It's clear that it generates tension. The reputation of our football is at stake. I am ashamed. We have no explanation from Barcelona," thundered the leader. To cut short the accusations, Barça president Joan Laporta said last Tuesday that his club had "never bought a referee". "Let it be clear that Barça never bought a referee or intended to buy referees. Absolutely never," the leader defended himself at a conference.
"Fierce attacks aimed at smearing our club"
On Monday, Laporta appeared emotional during a speech at Camp Nou and said it was not weakness, but rather evidence of his desire to take on his club's critics. "Don't think I'm moved by weakness, I am because I really want to face all the scoundrels who tarnish our coat of arms," he said. There are fierce attacks aimed at smearing our club, which have nothing to do with reality. »
The Barcelona prosecutor's office has launched proceedings against Barça as a legal entity, as well as against its former presidents Josep Maria Bartomeu (from 2014 to 2020), and Sandro Rosell (between 2010 and 2014). Oscar Grau and Albert Soler, members of Bartomeu's former team, are also being prosecuted. Sanctions against the club could range from "suspension of activity... to the outright dissolution of society," Alberto Palomar, a law professor at Madrid's Carlos III University, told AFP.
- FC Barcelona